Unui Jang

Clear Coldness

Unui Jang

Unui Jang’s works are characterized by fruits in shiny bowls against a bright surface. In particular, they often consist of realist still-life images of green apples, recalling the apple paintings of Korbinian Aigner, a Bavarian priest and noted pomologist (i.e., working in the science of fruit). For his political resistance towards the Nazis, Father Aigner was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was forced to continue his studies of apple varieties. While Father Aigner’s works are notable as scientific illustrations documenting different varieties of apples, Unui Jang’s paintings are just as significant for her conceptual use of highly realistic imagery.

Two Breaths for One, 2017, HD video, 1:30 (Performers: Johannes Ulrich Kubiak & Unui Jang)

Unui Jang’s paintings always take a bird’s eye view, looking straight down at the bowls of fruit, and thus highlighting the circular shapes of the depicted objects. In this way, the precise, clean-cut circle of the bowl seems to form an antithesis with the irregular, organic circle of the fruits. This binary correlation is further emphasized by the works’ titles, such as Four Circles (Three Summer Apples and a Bowl), and systematic descriptions of the geometric shapes of natural and artificial prototypes. By precisely visualizing both the broad similarities and minute differences between organic and artificial objects, Unui Jang connects two different clauses—i.e., nature and humanity—in parentheses, thus integrating them within the same conceptual classification.

Another crucial aspect of Unui Jang’s works is light. Like her paintings, her studio is always filled with light, both bright and subtle. In her works, such light is like a divine blessing, delicately wrapping the bowls and fruits and imbuing them with an ethereal ambience, lifting them up from their own materiality or geometry. Interestingly, in all of her works, the light comes from the right side, just as the God was traditionally represented on the right in medieval paintings. Reminiscent of paintings by Lucas Kranach the Elder, Jang’s Two Circles (A Summer Apple and a Blue Bowl) series features fruits in navy blue bowls, arousing an array of symbolic interpretations through the striking contrast between light and dark.

Of course, these paintings looking straight down from above are intended to be hung on the wall. As such, they evince a very unique visual perspective, as if they are being seen from the top and from the side at the same time. Unui Jang’s art comprises not only her paintings, but also this distinct iconography itself, both realistic and abstract, simultaneously conjuring the present and distant memories. Through her delicate, luminous pictorial techniques, all of these concepts swirl around the boundary between materiality and imagery. In this liminal realm, her art ultimately enacts a “Clear Coldness” that is characterized by the encounter of objects in the primal state before meaning.

Artistic Director Jinsang Yoo

“Recently, by painting fruits or fruits on a plate or bowl, I’ve been addressing some type of relationship that is both ordinary and ideal. At first glance, the circle of a plate or bowl looks similar to that of fruits, but they are actually very different. Belonging to the artificial world and the natural world (respectively), they are entities pursuing formal perfection from different directions. My depictions are symbolic, showing the fundamental coexistence of these different worlds in faithful relation to one another, without pondering why they are different. People rarely experience this state, even though it also applies to the ways that we live together. These utterly familiar scenes felt unfamiliar to me, taking on a special beauty, so I’ve been turning them into paintings.”

from Artist’s Notes

Through myriad formal changes, [Unui Jang] finds the precise moment of relation between apples and artificial objects. Looking straight down from above, she uses a camera to capture this moment in a photo. The photograph documents the relationship between the objects, providing an opportunity to closely observe and compare their placement, size, and proportion. At this point, the artist determines the size and shape of the painting. She then makes a sketch on a canvas infused with her unique clear blue color, before finally beginning the coloring. In the resulting series of paintings, fruits with ideal shapes and colors are arranged in some relation with nondescript artificial objects. While the general form of the artificial objects is round, each shows variations in terms of its surfaces and materiality. In another series, green apples in a bowl or on a plate appear repeatedly. Unui Jang thus presents her own creative challenge to naturalist paintings that purport to represent real objects as they are.

from “Summer When Apples Fall” (2019) by Ekkehard Neumann (Artist, Curator)

Unui Jang
b.1974
Solo Exhibitions
2019 The Summer, When Apples Fall, Haus der Kunst Enniger, Enniger
A Plate: To You Who’s Different from Me, ThisWeekendRoom, Seoul
2018 Two Circles, KAIST Research & Art Gallery, Seoul
Zwei Kreise: Die Wie Eine Andere Welt Doch Zusammen Sind, Haus der Kunst Enniger, Enniger
2017 Two Circles: How Do Different Worlds Exist Together, CL Gallery, Seoul
2016 Artist of Ami, Ami Art Museum, Dangjin
2015 Feel the Absence, Gallery Planet, Seoul
2014 Immaterial Fantasies, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
2013 True Love, Artspace Plasma, Seoul
Duo Exhibitions
2017 Johannes Ulrich Kubiak & Unui Jang Two-Person Show, Künstlerhaus im Schlossgarten, Cuxhaven
2016 Coincidental Painting, Gallery Planet, Seoul
Selected Group Exhibitions
2020 Fair Play, ThisWeekendRoom, Seoul
Art+work, Studio White Block Cheonan, Cheonan
Let’s Go on a Trip, Ttukseom Museum of Art, Seoul
Screening: Les Faux-Monnayeurs, Busan Cinema Center, Busan
2019 Journey with You, Heyground, Seoul
Dreamer, A Dreaming Night, Studio White Block Cheonan, Cheonan
Seongnam’s Face: Home, Seongnam Cube Art Museum, Seongnam
Residency Effect, Factory of Contemporary Arts in Palbok, Jeonju
Pick Your Pic, Seoullo Mediacanvas, Seoul
Recent Work Gallery Project, Asia Culture Center Media Wall, Gwangju
2018 Winter, Haus der Kunst Enniger, Enniger
Open Studio, Factory of Contemporary Arts in Palbok, Jeonju
Our Mediator, Factory of Contemporary Arts in Palbok, Jeonju
Transform, Factory of Contemporary Arts in Palbok, Jeonju
2017 Chang Ucchin, Walk the Art Soul, Chang Ucchin Museum of Art, Yangju
Aurora, Sonoart, Seoul
Art N Work, SJ Kunsthalle, Seoul
2016 Residency Artist Archive, Gyeonggi Creation Center, Ansan
2015 Record of Some Time, Some Minutes, Some Seconds, KEPCO Art Center, Seoul
I Am an Unknown Artist, ARKO Art Center, Seoul
The Dream of Things, Atelier 705, Suwon
2014 Affinity 90, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
Fifty Rooms, Five Million Stories, Gyeonggi Creation Center, Ansan
Everybody Has a Story, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan
Reading Contemporary Art Trends, Ami Art Museum, Dangjin
Art in Life, Ian Art, Seoul
Re-novation, Hanbyeokwon Art Museum, Seoul
2013 March of Kongjwi and Patjwi, Ami Art Museum, Dangjin
Between Mirrors: Infinite Reversibility, Ewha Art Center, Seoul
Pre-Drawing Biennale, Gallery SoSo, Paju
2012 The Clothing-Making, Selling, Dressing and Undressing, Ewha Art Center, Seoul
Project Players, Gallery SoSo, Paju
2009 The Eyes of the Viewers, UrbanArt, Seoul
Ewha Young Artist, Ewha Art Center, Seoul
Harmony of Clash, ZKMax, München
2007 A Window for Two Lands, Goethe Institute, Seoul
Harmony of Clash, Gallery Sejul, Seoul
2006 Single Channel Video of Korea: Le Cube, Paris
Blanc Nuit, Theater Malakov, Paris
2005 Art Autonomy Network, BankART, Yokohama
2004 Presentation Videoart, Rice+Total, Tokyo
2003 Listen to the Music with Eyes, Kampnagel, Hamburg
Residencies
2020 Studio White Block Cheonan, Cheonan
2019 Haus der Kunst Enniger, Enniger
Studio White Block Cheonan, Cheonan
2018 Haus der Kunst Enniger, Enniger
Factory of Contemporary Arts in Palbok, Jeonju
2017 Künstlerhaus im Schloßgarten, Cuxhaven
2014 Gyeonggi Creation Center, Ansan
Award
2005 Best Graduation Award, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg
Collections

Seongnam Cube Art Museum

MMCA Art Bank

KAIST Research & Art Gallery

Goethe-Institut Seoul